How to Transfer Your China Work Permit Between Employers (2019)

Note: the process and conditions for China work visa transfer may currently be different from described in this article, due to special circumstances as a result of COVID-19. Please use this article as a guide to understand the process but check thoroughly with your local authorities and visa agents regarding your own particular situation.

Bureaucracy in any foreign country is often murky waters for the unsuspecting expat, and China certainly is no exception. Since 2017, China has stepped up its effort to clean out the low-level foreign English teachers by significantly tightening the qualifications for foreigner work permits. Prior to 2017 it was almost a formality for your Chinese employer to apply for your work permit, whereas now it is a lot more difficult (and annoying), and you are sent around hunting for documents like notarized copies of your university diploma and police record check from your home country.

With all the inconveniences that now exist, it is almost imperative that you should make seamless work permit transfers when switching jobs, rather than having to waste weeks of your time to start over a new application process. Those weeks of waiting for papers from your home country, waiting in line at the consulate to get them notarized, waiting for the bureau to process your application, and the day spent at the health checkup, are weeks you will never get back. The good news is that now in 2018 most of the process have moved online, which saves you a lot of trips to the bureaus.

If you do not work for a multinational with a full-fledge professional HR team, then you’d better pay attention to this process yourself, because chances are the Chinese HR at your company will have no clue about how the process works or she/he may not even care about you. I have heard several horror stories lately of foreigners in Shanghai who entrusted their company’s HR only to find out months later that their visas were never even transferred, or worse, actually getting caught by the police for working without a valid permit and getting banned from the country for life.

Here I will outline the process of switching employers and transferring your work permit and the corresponding resident permit (“visa”), and make the distinction between the two documents. Having had to totally take responsibility and go through this process myself, I realized that the internet needs a clear guide like this. Note that this guide applies only if your job title at your new employer is the same as it was at your previous employer. If you change job titles/fields, then you must restart the permit/visa application process from scratch, as if you were applying for a job in China for the first time.

Distinction Between the Two “Permits”

1. Work Permit – This is the little plastic card that your employer might have kept or they might have given to you (you should ask to keep it yourself). This is the actual permit proving that you pass the qualifications as a professional alien and are eligible to work in China. See photo below:

china foreigner's work permit

2. Residence Permit for the Purpose of Work – This is the “visa” that you get in your passport. This document is obtained after you have obtained your work permit, and basically shows that you are legally allowed to stay/live in China, serving the same purpose as a visa. It is usually valid for 1 year from the day of your work permit application.

Step 1: Cancellation of Your Old Work Permit

First you and your former employer need to cancel your existing work permit, and ideally this is supposed to be done within 10 days of you leaving your job. Your former employer needs to do this by logging into their company’s account at and submitting the required documents. Upon preliminary approval of the online submission, your former employer will then need to go to the work permit bureau to physically drop off the original documents. When it’s approved you will get a cancellation certificate stating that your work permit has been cancelled and what was the reason for cancellation.

Your former employer will require the following documents for this step:

  • Application Form for Cancellation of Foreigner’s Work Permit (obtained by employer and stamped, signed by you)
  • Letter of termination (produced by employer and stamped)
  • Your current work permit (you or your employer should have the card)

Time Required: up to 10 working days in total.

Your passport is not required at this step, and your existing residence permit on your passport will still be valid.

Step 2: Application for Your New Work Permit

Your new employer needs to go into their SAFEA account (link in Step 1) and fill in your information. They should be able to type in your old work permit number and see most of your information auto-filled from the previous applications, and can update certain details as suitable. They will generate the application form based on your information and you will need to sign the form, followed by the company stamping with its seal. They will then upload the signed copy along with other required documents, including:

  • Application form for Foreigner’s Work Permit (above, signed and stamped)
  • Labour contract or proof of employment (from employer, signed and stamped)
  • Passport photo page (scan/photo)
  • Passport current residence permit page (scan/photo)
  • Cancellation certificate of previous work permit (end product of Step 1)

Note that when you are doing a transfer between employers within 1 month of the old work permit cancellation, the other tedious documents are not required (notarized police record check, notarized diploma, proof of previous employment abroad, and physical examination). This is why you should absolutely do a visa transfer (with same job titles) instead of quitting a job and then reapplying for everything later — you save 70% of your time!

After the submitted electronic documents are preliminarily approved online, you or your new employer will need to again physically go to the work permit office to physically submit the documents. As of November 2018, the work permit office did not require photocopies of any of the documents, unlike stated in the official guidelines. But, you should go with photocopies of the application form and labour contract, just in case. You should also take a 2” photograph if a photo of you was not already in the system and automatically printed onto the application form.

Time Required: up to 15 working days in total, but can be very quick if you are Class B or higher and had gotten previous work permits comfortably.

Once you successfully receive your new work permit card, you must then go do Step 3 and apply for the new residence permit in your passport.

Step 3: Application for Your New Residence Permit

This step requires you to gather a bunch of documents from yourself and your new employer, and submitting them at the Entry & Exit Bureau of your city, including:

  • Residence Permit Application Form*
  • 2” portrait photo*
  • Passport
  • Police registration form for temporary residence (original + photocopy; make sure it’s from AFTER your latest entry stamp!)
  • Company application letter (produced and stamped by employer)
  • Individual application letter (produced by employer or yourself, signed by you)
  • Company registration “营业执照” (original + photocopy, from employer)
  • New work permit card (original + photocopy)**

* Normally you can print the form online and fill it in, sign and get company stamped, then attach the 2” photo. However, as of November 2018, in some first-tier cities (e.g. Shanghai) they have moved to an electronic system at the Entry & Exit Bureau where you take a photo in a booth and then scan your passport to get the application form printed on the spot. You then fill in some remaining information on the form and sign it, without needing the company stamp.

** As of November 2018, in some first-tier cities (e.g. Shanghai), you need to also scan the QR code on the new work permit card and print out the list of information associated with you and your permit, and submit this printout at the window along with your card photocopy.

Note that when you are doing a transfer between employers within 1 month of the old work permit cancellation, you are not required to do a new health exam for this residence permit application! Once again, this is why you should absolutely do a visa transfer (with same job titles) instead of quitting a job and then reapplying for everything later.

After submitting these documents (including your actual passport) at the window without problems, you will be rewarded with a temporary ID in the form of a piece of paper/receipt (see below). Supposedly you can travel domestically with this piece of paper while your passport is gone, but I have not tested this hypothesis myself. The pickup date of your passport is noted on this piece of paper, and you should come back to the Entry & Exit Bureau with this paper on that date (alternatively you can choose to have them mail your passport to you). You will need to pay a fee when you pick up your passport, and this fee is typically several hundred up to one thousand CNY (depending on length of visa), and is written on the receipt.

Time Required: 7 working days.

When you pick up your passport, make sure to bring the receipt (above) and the cash required (as of November 2018, in first tier cities like Shanghai they are accepting Alipay/WeChat too). You’ll receive your passport with the old residence permit stamped with a cancellation stamp, and you’ll have a sparkling new residence permit valid for 1 full year. Congratulations!

All in all, you should allot a comfortable 10+15+7=32 working days for this entire transfer process, from beginning to end. This means you shouldn’t have any major travel plans during this time, as it could disrupt the process significantly, or you might be caught without your passport and can’t travel!

Note that 32 working days is roughly the maximum number of days you should allot for this process, but typically it goes faster than that. Personally, for my latest visa transfer (November/December 2018), the whole process only took 8+4+7=19 working days.

I hope you find this guide to be detailed and helpful. Your FAQs are answered in the Comments section below.

For more of China hustle, life, and business, check out my podcast – Millennials in China!

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  1. Hi Thank you for this it was very helpful however my new employer is adamant that I need a new police clearance for the work permit transfer? She says it works differently in Dalian do you by any chance know if its true? My current agent says she doesn’t know what shes doing and it’s not necessary? So im confused and I really don’t want to spend so much money on getting a new police clearance if its not necessary.

    1. Author

      Hi Amorie, it is not necessary to get a new police clearance if you are transferring from one employer to another within 30 days of your old work permit cancellation, and with the same job title. Your agent is correct. Most Chinese employers are not familiar with the procedure, especially smaller companies that have not hired many foreigners before.

    2. Hello I’m a little confused by the 30 day period after cancellation . Is it 30 days after they issue the cancellation receipt? Or 30 days after the old employer logs on to safea and put in the request ?

  2. I am in the process of transferring jobs (within 1 month with same title). My old company is taking my work permit card today as well. My question is this…my res permit expires 4/14. Can I get an extention of 90 days so the process can finish?

    1. Author

      Hi Jed, as long as you start applying for the new resident permit before the expiration date then it’s fine. If your old work permit cancellation process has already started then you should have enough time to get to that step before April 14.

      1. My old company in taking my card today to drop off at the work permit office. I should expect the cancelation letter next week. My new company will apply online most likely next Friday or the following Monday. If it look likes it will take longer than I have, can I get a 30 day extension if needed?

        1. Or would I have to convert to a 30 day L visa for the extension?

        2. Author

          Yes you can get a 30-day extension (“humanitarian” extension). But in your case I think you have ample time, as long as the HR doesn’t drag things on and waste days.

          1. This is a great article and something that is so crucial for so many people here in China trying to read between the grey fuzzy lines. Can I ask did you and your (new)employer do this transfer by yourselves without the help of an agency? I feel agencies give a different answer everyday. Looking forward to your reply

          2. Author

            Did it ourselves. Did not involve an agency at all.

          3. Hello, i would like to express my appreciation to you for all the work you put into providing these information. I am a Canadian living in China for three years now as a teacher. Recently, I have found a job in a city called Hanghzou, Zhejiang Province, I sent all my documents to the school I was supposed to work at and everything went well until I came to China to work on the rest of the documents needed for the work permit as well as the resident permit. Now here where it gets very complicated; when I was in Canada over the summer I have smoked some weed as it is the first year of its legalization not knowing that the complications it will in inflict on everything after coming to China. Consequently, I have tested positive for the test that I took for the rest of the application which made the school deny me of the working permit in the city after they have been informed by the police leaving in limbo not knowing if I am banned from applying to another job in another city or even staying here in China because no body has told me anything about whether can stay or leave or work or can’t work. My question is, since I haven’t broken the law neither here in China nor in Canada, how am I gonna know if I still have the right to work at a different school and if yes, do I have to do something that would allow that?

  3. Just an update… I’m based in Beijing. Got the cancelation letter Tuesday morning the 19th. New company applied for new work permit online the same day. They should have the result on Friday the 22nd. Then they will physically take my documents in to get the new work card. Do they make an appointment? Hoping the turnaround time will be I get my new card before April 3rd and can start the res permit part.

    1. Author

      No appointment needed. Based on my experience in SH, literally just walked in and picked the card up as soon as they said it’s ready. Then after that it’s the standard 7 days for res permit. You’ll be fine.

      1. More fun updates. My new job applied for the work card but it got rejected because the new work contract is dated before the official cancellation of the previous work permit. My signed new work contract was 2/25…the cancellation of previous work permit was 3/15. Hence the rejection. So they are reapplying today. They assure me everything will be fine. Stress is great!

        1. They are changing the new starting date to 3/16.

        2. Author

          You’d think it would have been obvious that they should write the start date for after the cancellation of the previous work permit… #chinalogic

          1. You would think…So i just lost 5 days because they don’t think. So now I have to wait till Thursday/Friday to get the online approval. Then go in with my documents. So now I should still have time but she knows that an extension might happen.

          2. When does the cancellation date start from? Is it from the date your employer put on the cancellation letter or from when the bureau received and accepted it ( 10 days later or so)? I’ll be starting this process next week and I would like it all to go as smooth as yours did!

  4. Hi,
    First of all, thank you so much for your great and detailed information in this blog. It is quite complex here in China to find clear information for whatever working permit/residence visa procedure to be done..

    However, as also usual in China at least in my experience, each stakeholder you ask for information provide you sometimes different feedback.

    I am already starting to manage working permit transfer since I have a new job. Regarding to step 1 on your explanation it is quite clear but I have doubt regarding to if existing residence permit need to be also cancelled or not. After asking Shanghai Exit Bureau and agency in charge of manage my process, they told me that I have 10 days since I cancel my existing working permit for switch my residence permit to new employer so they recommend me that, since it is almost impossible to have new working permit within 10 days and then apply for new residence permit, go Shanghai Exit Bureau as soon as my cancellation letter is released and request humanitarian visa for 30 days while new working permit process is done. Otherwise, they told me that I can face to penalty and hence bad records.

    Could you kindly confirm if it is possible keep my existing residence permit (it expires on November) while doing working permit transfer process (cancel with existing employer and request with new employer) without any trouble?

    Thank you very much in advance and thanks again for your great article.

    1. Author

      Hi Jorge, as answered by email:

      I did it without problems — work permit and resident permit are two separate departments (labour and entry/exit/PS), so you don’t have to coordinate so perfectly. Yes, if you ask them they will say that you have to cancel the resident permit at the same time you apply for your work permit cancellation, since technically you are not supposed to have a valid resident permit if you are no longer employed. It is up to you really — it would be an annoying extra step where you hand in your passport an extra time. Again, I just kept my resident permit until I was ready to apply for the new one, and it was no issues at all. They no longer require the letter of release (dated job end date) from your previous employer now that everything is online, so in reality the Entry/Exit bureau won’t even know when was the date you actually started applying for your work permit cancellation, etc.

      1. Thank you very much again for your kind feedback. I will start Monday with the process of cancellation so still I have 10 days (which looks max days to cancel my existing residence visa expiring in November) for giving head rounds about either I follow agency process or decide by myself just keep residence permit till new application and face possible penalty if so.

        However, as I said in my first post, for me one of the biggest troubles in China is that procedures/laws changes randomly and each time so depends when you are doing the process you could need different requirements. When did you manage your last working permit transfer process? Which city? Shanghai?

        1. Author

          Yes. It’s mentioned in my post.

    2. Hi Jorge, thanks for sharing here and now I have same confusion with you whether I should cancel my current residence permit or not. Could you please share with me how your work permit transfer process went last time?

  5. Hi, what does the new company need to have to hire a foreigner? Registration on safea website + license to hire a foreigner? I dont want to ask my old company to cancel my work permit yet if my new company does not have what they need

    1. Author

      Hi Bilal, yes the company must be registered for eligibility to hire foreigners. It’s not difficult to get though, just costs a bit of money.

  6. Very useful website, changed my employment within a month, with the same job title – Took 5 days to get my new work permit – Didn’t even have to bring my original documents in – However, for Zhengzhou Henan, I was required to do the health check again – But didn’t bother me too much as I can claim it back from my employer – But this website very useful as difficult to get structured step by step guidance such as this – They key document you need to get from your old employer is the cancellation of your work permit- You can track the status through the online system as well

    1. Author

      Great to hear. Thanks for the feedback!

      1. Also, one thing I forgot to leave out was because I did exit the country for Xmas and New Year to go back home and come back in – Had to get another Police Non Criminal Report – However, it didn’t need to be notarized – So basically my Parents scanned a copy over and that was sufficient – They didn’t need to see the original – So just be weary of this – The good news is it didn’t require notarization – Otherwise big hassle- So basically we uploaded 2 copies my original one notarized, and then the latest one.

        1. Also, I was happy this company hired several foreigners in the past, as its a fairly global company, so the person facilitating this was also quite competent – And any queries she had she just directly asked the work permit bureau – She basically had a direct wechat line with them which was useful – If the company has zero experience (as mentioned above in some cases) then the process would most definitely drag.

          1. Why did you need the police report again? I am leaving on summer holiday to get married for 6 weeks (8/3-9/15) and will be in Egypt the entire time. Or is it that you needed one because you were home?

          2. Author

            Police record check from your home country is required for new applications.

      2. Also, forgot to update before, have my new Residency permit in Henan – My work permit (the one that looks like a drivers Lic) is 2 years – As my employer gave me a 2 year contract – However Henan province only provided me a 1 year residency permit – They said if I fulfill my one year next year I will be eligible to be considered for longer 2 or 3 year – But first year people working in Henan only get 1 year regardless of the length of the contract – However, based on experience this can be renewed quite easily. Just a timely reminder that each Province in China has their own subtle different rules vs others.

      3. Hello. I would like to know, how many days am I allowed to stay in China after I have cancelled my work permit from my previous job.? I only cancelled work permit and not residence permit.

        1. Author

          Hi Christopher, technically it is not legal to keep staying on your residence permit if your work permit is cancelled, but AFAIK the responsibility is on the employer to cancel your residence permit. Most smaller companies are usually negligent about this though – so basically you can be in the “gray area” and stay until your residence permit’s expiry date.

    2. How to track the status of your cancellation document

    3. Hi, you motioned that you didn’t even submit original documents for getting new work permit , may I know which city of china…electronic copy of work cancelation letter is acceptable, as my employer is not giving a orginal copy , is there any option

  7. Hello,
    Thanks a lot for the detailed step-by-step guide! Do you how this process differs if the job title at my new company is different from my previous one? Thanks a lot for any advice!

    1. Based on my experience Best to keep the same job title if possible..Try to ask your HR to use your previous job title.

      1. Unfortunately that won’t be possible as my new company has completely different job titles… Do you know what this means for the work permit and residence permit application process? Do I basically have to start from scratch again with submitting all the documents (police record check, health check, etc.)?

        1. Author

          The job title is more of an arbitrary thing that your employer puts on the application document though… it doesn’t necessarily need to 100% reflect what you are actually doing, if you understand what I mean.

          1. OK, gotcha, that’s actually quite a good solution! Thanks a lot!

          2. Yup, I also concur with those comments.

            Good luck on your Transfer!

  8. Not entirely sure why I needed to submit a new scanned police copy, plus my original copy from last year which was notarized – Maybe it was because I left the country, or maybe they just wanted an updated one, I didn’t get a clear answer – But anyway I had it on hand, so it wasn’t a big fuss – just a scanned copy I submitted. Mine was a visa transfer not a new application.

  9. Hi, everything I’ve read here makes sense do far. I’m transferring between employers and the new employer has asked for the cancellation (release) letter. The problem is my current employer cannot provide the letter until my contact ends but my current residence permit and work permit both expire on the same day that my contract ends! They’ve also said that extending the current permit isn’t an option because it requires insurance etc. which they don’t want to do as I’m not working there any more. Any suggestions !?

    1. As far as I know you don’t have to wait till your contract ends, you can hand in your resignation letter and start the cancellation process now. This will just cancel your Work permit (the card that looks like a Driv License). This will not impact your residence permit (The page inside your passport) – The two are separate. You can keep your old residence permit and just update it once you start your new job – How long do you have left on your residence permit?

    2. Hello, I am in the exact same situation that you described. What have you learned please? Maybe this article can be updated with this information as I’m sure many people have this situation. I’m in Shanghai.

    3. Author

      If you are leaving the job prior to the contract ending, then they should be providing you with your release letter. Some employers may not be very cooperative, in which case you need to negotiate with them. Technically it is not legal for them to *not* cancel your permit if you have already left the job (i.e. riding on the existing work/resident permit while you are no longer working at the company).

  10. Hi, quick question.
    I left my job in Beijing 3 months ago.
    My previous employer said that while my visa hasn’t been cancelled, my FEC card was.

    My residence permit is valid until October of this year. Is there any way I can return to Beijing using this RP and find a new job while there?
    Or is this simply just not possible? given the 30 day transfer period etc.

    The employer only had access to my FEC card but not my passport in order to do the RP cancellations when I left.

    Any help would be appreciated

    1. The RP permit is the one in your passport right? If that is still valid till October 2019 this year, that means you can still travel in and out of China freely – This is separate to the drivers Lic Work permit card you were given.

  11. Hello, quick update from my side, my new company cannot put the same job title on my new work permit application since it needs to be the same as on the labour contract. Also as I am transferring from Guangzhou to Shanghai this seems to add another layer of complexity. My current employer is adamant that they need to cancel my residence permit since it ties back to them. Bottom line is that I may have to start the tedious process all over again and may need to leave China and re-enter. I will update again as the process unfolds.

    1. Good Luck – That’s rough you couldn’t get a smooth transition.

  12. Hello, thank you for your article. I’m not sure if it changes things, but I am a teacher here in Beijing. I have already left my old job, the work permit with them has been cancelled and I have the release form from them. I have two weeks for my new school to apply for the new work permit before my humanitarian visa (if that’s what it’s called) runs out. Do I need to re-authenticate my degree and tefl certificate? Or are they not needed for the work permit (is it just the school which requires these?). Also, I will also need a new residence permit after this I think? As long as the permit applications are in motion, will I be okay to stay? Thank you for your help. I have received so many conflicting answers!

    1. I’m in Finance so not sure about the TEFL, but when I did my visa transfer, they did mention there is no expiry regarding the Degree authentication, i.e you don’t need to do it again. Regarding your new residence permit, your new employer will help you apply for this, and yes as long as the application is in motion i.e your passport is with the Bureau then you can continue to stay in mainland china.

  13. Very helpful article, but in my case. My Old company actually applied the Cancellation of Residence Permit and Changed it over to Humanitarian Visa last 6/3/2019 meaning i have until 7/3/2019 to stay here and complete the transfer of my Visas to my new company. And to my knowledge, they only applied today 6/12/2019 to cancel my Work Permit. What will happen if i am not yet done on processing my New Work Permit and Residence Visa within the time of my Humanitarian Visa expires. and in that case, can i apply for extension of my Humanitarian Visa? or I need to go out of the country and wait til everything is done?

    1. I believe if its ‘in motion, in progress’ then your safe – And once you pick up your new work permit/residence permit it should reflect a new date.

      Hence no need to extent the humanitarian visa – As long as the application was performed before your work permit and residence permit expires – You should also double check with your new employer regarding this.

  14. What if I’m transferring from one employer to my own newly registered company? I could keep the generic title of “general manager” the same from one to the other if that would help.

    1. Hi Garret,

      Tricky question – But if its your own newly registered company then you can register yourself as whatever you like I believe, Director, GM etc But best to seek professional advice regarding this – I’m assuming this is a WOFE and someone is helping you to facilitate this, so best to get professional advice from then. Also, enquire regarding switching resident permits when your old one expires.

  15. Hi, can a Work Permit be transferred with one job title to another ? I am a foreign teacher in Guangzhou and I will be leaving my current school in about one month and in September I will be starting at another school in Guangzhou. However, my current Work Permit has my job title down as Educational Manager rather than as teacher. The reason being is that when I started to work at my current school nearly 2 years ago, it was easier for them to hire an Educational Manager rather than a teacher so they did it that way. Anyways the new school I am due to go to in September are trying to work out whether it can be transferred or it needs to be cancelled. I qualify to be a teacher in China as I am a native english speaker, hold over two years of teaching experience which can be legally accounted for and have a clean background check so as that is so, can it be transferred from Educational Manager to Teacher? Or does it need to be cancelled and then a new one applied for? My current residence permit does not expire until May 202O so once my Work Permit is cancelled I can legally reside in China until the expiration date. Thanks. Great site by the way.

    1. Please read the guidance above by HF the Author, plus some other feedback from people who have tried this – Can be tricky when switching job titles, best if its the same.

  16. Hello,

    I need your help.

    My work permit will end on July 31st.

    My current employer is annoyed that I have a job at a new school. Although, I will finish my contract first before I start my new job.

    However, I got an email today from HR and it stated that my work permit will be cancelled on July 15th.

    This is not leaving my new employer with a lot of time to submit the documents.

    I have asked my current employer to cancel it sooner. But they are telling me to follow their timetable.

    I don’t know what to do.

    1. Hi John,
      When you say, work permit, you mean the one that looks like a drivers License right? If its cancelled on the 15th of July, your new employer will have 30 days to start the application, that’s plenty of time.

      Also, how long do you have left on your residence permit? The one that’s in your passport?

  17. New development re: residency permit transfer. This may be only applicable to Zhejiang province at the moment, as these things are often not rolled out country-wide simultaneously. As of about two weeks ago, the new residence permits now will have a photo included. Apparently, for some reason, this will extend the wait time for this part of the process. I submitted the paperwork in Wenzhou Friday, and my pickup date is 7/12 (15 working days), and they were not confident that it would be ready until then. The HR rep I was with said that it was always usually a -10 working days turnaround before, but now it is taking 12+. In my case, pretty annoying, as I will have no reason to stay in China beyond 7/3 except waiting for this to process. Should have done it a week earlier. I’ve asked to expedite this, the officer said they’d try, but could make no promises. I’ll report back.

    1. Author

      Interesting. Thank you for sharing the update with us, Ian!

  18. Hi,
    Thank you very much for the blog
    I would like to ask, I’ve been looking for a new job for a while and I just got one, however, my current, employer just renewed my rp and working permit like 2 days ago, If I cancel it that quick and apply for a new one, will it be a problem?
    Thanks in advance

    Btw I am located in Beijing.

    1. Author

      Hi Mehmet. There shouldn’t be any problem, other than maybe a bit of awkwardness between you and your current employer. You should figure out if they are willing to cooperate to cancel your permit, since they just renewed it recently.

  19. Hi there,

    Your blog is great!

    We successfully submitted the documents to the bureau for the work visa. However, because it is late, it seems as though we are going to miss the deadline for the residence permit.

    Therefore, we are converting to a stay visa.

    Do you know, once i get the work permit card and the stay visa, will it be possible to change the stay visa back to a new residence permit card while staying in china?


    1. Author

      If by “stay visa” you mean the 30-day “humanitarian” visa then yes, proceed as usual.

  20. I am transferring from one company to another. the only problem I can see is my residence permit expires on July 15, 2019 and I don’t stop working until July 5, 2019. How was I supposed to transfer a month before my residence permit expires if it expires before I even had the job offer. Also, how can I transfer to another company if I am still working at my first company until 10 days before my residence permit expires. this makes no sense. what am I supposed to do. How can I be penalized if the dates are so tight outside of anything I could do about it. schools do not expend visa for teachers they don’t care really. so what am I supposed to do now. I heard of a stay visa that allows me to stay in China while my school is transferring the papers. is that true and can you tell me about it so I can tell my school about it. thanks

  21. Hello, I am working at my school until July 5, 2019 and my new school will do the paperwork then but my residence permit expires on July 15, 2019. How are we supposed to be able to transfer things a month before the end of our residence permit when it expires 10 days after our work ends. There just isn’t enough time. How can I get this done without doing it all over again.

  22. Hi, this is such a great article that will help many I am sure.

    I have a question regarding the pickup of passport with residence permit. If you choose for your passport to be delivered to you by post does that mean they will send it so it arrives on the collection date as stated on the receipt or will they send it out on said collection date?

    1. Author

      Cheers Matt. They will mail it on collection date, but it’s China so it’ll arrive by the next day. Post saves you the extra trip back to the bureau.

  23. Hi, please help me,
    Actually my old employer sending me to different company to a different city in china for the same job title but without doing any documentation work and cancelling the old work permit. Is it safe and legal to proceed?

  24. Thank you for the information. I am currently in flux. My potential new employer says that in Hefei I will have to leave the country and apply for a new Visa altogether. From everything I have learned online and talking to others, this should be unneeded. I am not changing job fields – education to education but I am moving cities. Is there a company that is reputable that can help with this instead of relying on HR?

    1. Author

      Hi Becky, best to ask around your local network for visa agent recommendations.

  25. Thank you so much for this very helpful post! I’m in a bit of a strange situation and wanted a second opinion. Based on what I read, it seems that I have Step 2 completed for transferring. My previous employer gave me everything I needed and I submitted all materials to my new employer in Shanghai. Here is where things are unclear. They told me they were able to successfully transfer the work permit however I don’t have the actual work permit card. They want me to come to Shanghai on a tourist visa and within the first 24 hours complete the residence registration and right after go to entry and exit to change the visa to a work one. They said because we completed all the steps and because I am a B category it should only take about 4 days to complete. The only thing is one of their employees who is also a native English speaker warned me to be careful going through immigration and to never mention that I play to change my visa immediately after entering the country. He was able to confirm everything else they said including that it should only take a few days. Any thoughts on this? Thank you for your help!

    1. Author

      Hi Ann, I don’t understand why you need to “come to Shanghai on a tourist visa” if you are transferring from an existing employer in China. You should already be in China and have your old work residence permit.

  26. Hey HF, thank you for the information.

    I just arrived in Shanghai after previously emailing all required documents to my new employer (first time working in China). I was told to bring the originals when i arrived which I did, with the exception of one. My previous UK employer sent a confirmation of employment letter by email (signed and stamped) so there is no original! My employer is adamant that in order to get the work permit, I need to provide an original ink signed document and copies or printed letters are not accepted. Do you have any experience or knowledge in this area? Thank you 🙂

    1. Author

      Hi Jason, yes AFAIK they require a freshly signed/stamped original, and a copy or print will not do it. You’ll have to ask your UK employer to mail it to you.

  27. When transferring to another employer, is it legal to work during the transition period, i.e. after your current employer has applied for the cancellation of your work permit? Or do you have to stop working until the transition process is completed? Where can I read up on this information? The FEB site has detailed guides on applications but nothing on this.
    It’s in my interest to keep the period of not working as short as possible, so I need to know if my current employer can still employ me while the cancellation is taking place; otherwise I would be out of work for at least a month.
    Very detailed info here, thank you for putting this together!

    1. Author

      Technically you are not allowed to. But typically it is fine for you to start working at the new employer WHILE they are starting your permit application process.

  28. Hi,
    Thank you so much for this helpful blog,
    I work in Changsha- Hunan and will leave my current company and go to another employer however the HR in my current company says that Changsha city is different than the other cities when it comes to work permit transfer and requires a new background check. do you know if its true?

    1. Author

      Should be the same nationwide, but perhaps small variations in local bureaus depending on if they are up-to-date. Some HR simply have no clue though, so you’d better ask the bureau directly to be sure.

  29. Hi,
    Hope you could help me out!
    Initially company A hired me and I almost completed the visa application process (documents all submitted but have not gotten the actual work permit yet. In fact I’ve not even arrive in China yet)
    However, due to personal reasons I decided to move to another city instead and company A agreed to let me go. I then got hired by company B in this new city but they are now saying company A has not cancelled the visa application and hence can’t proceed.
    I’ve talked to company A but they said they are unable to cancel it.
    What are the procedures to cancel a visa application? Can something be done by myself?


  30. Hi, Need your Feedback
    My resident permit in china was upto 31 August 2019, But i was planning to come to my country in November 2018, and not back to China again. I was holding student resident permit. So my University Cancel my Resident permit and i got Humanitarian Visa on my passport. So today i again submit my passport in Chinese embassy in my country to get X1 entry student visa.
    Will my previous Humanitarian visa will cause any problem in getting X1 visa now? Do will i get visa now?

  31. Good Day,

    My partner and I have just moved to a new city, I’ve been in China for 2 years and I went on holiday in 2017 to my home country, I moved to two other companies since then but the current company we are moving to keeps saying they are worried about the criminal checks, but I’ve only left for two weeks in 2017 and I have worked at 2 other companies prior to this one, surely the transfer should just be a smoother transition as mentioned in your article, truly so stressful as if we have to go back or I have to go back it can take upwards to 2/3 months to reapply for everything just because of an expired criminal check that I have from when I first commenced work in 2017. Any advice you could provide would be a godsend from this anxiety.

  32. So I have an issue that I am hoping you can help me with. I will be terminating my contract early with my current company on the 22nd of September and dating my last day to be the 22nd of October as 1-months notice to my company (in Zhejiang province). I have another job lined up to start the following week (in Shandong province) but the problem I am having is with getting a release letter from my current company. In the contract it says that I have to give 3-months notice to avoid paying a fine but that I’d only be eligible for my release letter and not guaranteed it. But if I don’t give 3-months notice then I have to pay a 10,000RMB fine and I definitely won’t get my release letter. Will my new school be able to successfully apply for a new work visa if I don’t get the release letter? The schools are in different provinces too so I don’t know if that makes a difference. My new school is saying that they could reapply for it and I would just have to redo my background check, but I’m worried they won’t be able to get a new visa. They also said that my current school would only be able to cancel my work permit card and not the visa if I don’t get the release letter. I really don’t know who to follow at this point, but I do want to leave my current school very badly. Thanks in advance for any advice!

  33. Very useful website indeed! Thanks ! Hope you could help me out too…. Already transferred my work permit frojm GZ to SH and got a new one; the residence I got in GZ is valid until 07/2020. How can i get a new residence in Sh, if i already have a new work permit?

  34. Hi my previous company lost all my notarized documents which requires to reapply for notarization and visa. They cancelled my work permit but not the beijing residency permit. I was told by an agent this could be a massive problem because I wasnt made aware of this process until 2days prior. I have been in Shanghai for two months not working i believe I passed the 30days. Please help what my next step can be. My documents are being processed by the magistrate and Chinese embassy in my country. I literally thought I could just leave and return with a new visa

    1. Author

      That’s not good. I’m not sure what you can do exactly, but chances are you will have to start from scratch (and maybe get a new passport first).

  35. Hi, thank you for this useful information. I would like to ask your help regarding a situation I am in right now. I had been offered a job at a company situated in shanghai, sent in all the necessary documents and got the work permit notification. In the meantime, I have been offered another better job at Suzhou. For this, I terminated my previous offer and accepted the new one. Now, my new employer tried to apply for my work permit notification but it was denied on the basis that I have another application on process and told me to confirm them when the withdrawn of that application is done. for the previous one, I signed and sent the cancellation form upon asking and requested them to let me know when my application is withdrawn. But the previous company is not responding anymore. Will you please tell me, how I may know, whether my work permit notification is canceled or not? and what is the process to cancel the work permit notification rather than the work permit, are they the same? or otherwise? Thank you so much for your help.

    1. Author

      Can’t help you on that one – if it’s in the system then it’s up to them to cancel it. Your only option is to be amicable with the first company and convince them to cancel the application. To be honest though that was not a nice move on your part – you made them commit the time to already start applying for your permit, and you really shouldn’t have done that.

      1. Thank you so much for your reply. I understand your point completely, I also was very skeptical to do such a thing, but the new opportunity is three times better in every aspect than the previous one. Also, I thought, as I haven’t yet gone to china and taken the work permit, the damage would be less. Is there anything you know about work permit notification cancellation? It would be a real help. Thanks

  36. Another question if I may, does work permit notification cancellation also generate cancellation certificate? Thank you so much for your help.

  37. As you mentioned in the step 3 is getting new residence permit .
    I recently change my company. And step-1 is already done by them . My new company will complete the step 2 tomorrow. All this happened with in the cancellation of work permit.. and i have residence permit till end of the march 2020. So with the new company i will get extension of 1 year visa more? Usually extension we can do not more than and with in 3 months. We can apply before the 3 months . So with new contract i will be able to get new visa earlier right ?

  38. Nice post Hope, very informative, thanks!

  39. Hi I would like to ask some question im facing right now.

    I am going to resign from my current company, i have no problem all this time with management and company, but once i said i am going to resign, my manager become all offensive to me saying stuff like the company will not help my visa transfer.

    As far as I understand, the only thing I need from my current employer are work permit cancellation proof and contract end proof (with name, position, company stamp, etc). I want to know, if company are legally required to give these documents to me or they actually could hold these documents. Or, do i need another documents from current company? I want to know my manager threat, is it a real threat or not.

  40. Hi. If my company transfers me from one centrum to another, do I need a new work permit? I will still be working under the same boss/company.

    1. Author

      What do you mean by “centrum”?

  41. Hi..thank you so much for this helpful post.. I would like to ask some question im facing right now. My residence is valid by February 2020 but i finished my contract November my company applied for cancellation work permit and this week it should be done. When they give me cancellation letter they want me to go to cancel my residence. But I want to go home first for 20days and I’ll be back in Shanghai by end of December. Should I cancel my residence than go home or not cancel it ? I can come back with all new docs and start process from beginning (I know I will need to go out of China to get my z visa again. Thing is that I can be in China for 90days without any visa) OR when I find new company then change my current residence because its valid by February and I am sure that I will find new job by then.I am worried am I gonna have any problems entering China with old residence and not having work permit. Company told me that I need cancel it.pls advice what to do.thanks

  42. Hello,
    can anybody tell me if once my work permit is cancelled, can I still travel on my passport with the residence permit still valid, so if I enter China again on the same residence permit , it is no issue, even if my work permit is cancelled. My old employer has told me that it wouldn’t effect my travel document. Is that the case?

  43. And I had another question, if I am doing the work permit transfer as detailed above, I don’t need to get a new non criminal check , and a new health certificate as last time? My new employer seems to think that I need to get both documents again, but I have been told something different from a colleague, so now I am not too sure. I am transferring between cities, but same job title and within a month of each other.

  44. Hi – really amazing article, including the comments. I feel much better than I did 30mins ago, having read through the whole lot.

    “Technically it is not legal for them to *not* cancel your permit if you have already left the job”

    I’m transferring from Shanghai to Sichuan (Chengdu), and, despite being on great terms with my current company (currently working my 1 month notice), I feel like they’re edging towards cancelling my work permit (which is fine), AND my residence visa (which my new employer is telling me I NEED in order to progress the visa transfer with the Chengdu PSB). My current employer, however, has formally stated via email that the status-quo is to cancel both the work visa and residence permit following the employee’s final working day.

    Do you have any advice in such a situation?

    1. Author

      Hi James, yeah that’s fine, you just have to go to the Entry/Exit Bureau and change to a 30-day “humanitarian” visa, for while you are applying for the new work permit with your new employer. This is pretty standard practice when the previous employer decides to cancel everything (which is actually the recommended procedure, but sometimes they are casual and don’t bother unless you tell them to).

      1. update – I’ve learned that (ONLY) in Shanghai, companies are required to cancel work permits AND associated resident permits. Which is ridiculous, as a valid resident permit is a prerequisite (along with the release letter) for a work visa transfer in Chengdu. Meaning there’s literally no *legal* way to move from a company in Shanghai, to another province (or, to Chengdu at least…)

  45. Thanks for the prompt reply..! My new employer is telling me that, as advised on eChinaCareers (Chinese site), I require:

    – 居留许可在有效期内 (Residence permit is valid)

    ^^^ do you think that refers specifically to
    my current residency visa (passport – which is supposedly going to be cancelled upon last working day), or could it refer to any type of visa which permits me to be in China at that time (i.e. a 30-day humanitarian visa)

    Thanks again. You’re saving my sanity here.

  46. Thank you so much for providing so much helpful information on this topic! Much appreciated!! My situation is a little different. I came to China on a Z visa that gave me 3 months in my passport At the bottom it says I must apply for a residence permit within 30 days of entering the country. The thing is things did not pan out as planned with the employer that brought me and I have found a new one. The only thing they’re not sure how to go ahead with a new work permit application as the z visa is under the old company. But since things changed so quickly within the first 2 weeks the old company never applied for a work permit and said I only had a month. Is there a way to extend my residence permit? Or is it basically valid along with the temporary work visa in my passport. I just want to be able to transfer documents to a new employer with out having to leave. I would really appreciate the help. Thank you kindly.

  47. Hi, first of all thank you for providing all this really useful information. It has really helped break down the process for me.

    My situation is that I have left an employer after working there for 2 months and have now found a new job where I am due to start on Monday.

    I was speaking to someone from the HR from a different school and she told me that it’s not possible to transfer over a work permit when the person has been in China for less than one year. Is this something you’re familiar with? It really worried me when she said it as a new work permit application would mean getting a notarised criminal background check which is money I don’t have.

    My new employer doesn’t seem to think it’s an

  48. Continuation : My new employer says we can transfer the visa over and so does the agent from my old school. I am really loath to trust anybody’s word for it though as I get so much conflicting information from people and I really don’t fancy winding up in a Chinese jail for working illegally or having to start a new work permit application. The latter would mean probably I would have to go home and leave China due to lack of funds.

  49. Transfer Your China Work Permit Between Employers – i followed the procedure which was explained. my previous employer cancelled the work permit and the cancellation document is in my hand. going into the system and trying to apply the work permit it is not working – always got failure message from the system. asked a visa handling agent and they say it not working in that way! when the work permit is cancelled than nothing can be found in the government system. – result i should have to apply all totally again from the beginning. question – was there anything which should have been done except cancellation of work permit? Is there a difference in Xiaoshan – Hanghzou compared with Shanghai or Beijing?

  50. So I got an awesome job offer. I want to take it but my Res Permit expires 7/31 (would need a humanitarian visa extension) and school ends 7/15. I’m hoping they can get me the documents early and not on the last day of school.. But.. Would 6 weeks be sufficient time to get everything done? I may ask them to get me everything by the 15th of June in return I will stay until the end of the contract.

    1. Author

      Hi JB, due to the COVID situation, things might be a bit different now, and it’s best if you ask the official sources for an update. However, I think they actually improved all the electronic systems due to COVID, and the process might even move faster than before.

      That said, I think your plan is good – ask for the release letter as early as possible, while maintaining a good mutual relationship so they will give you the document to allow you ample time for the transfer.

      1. I know some teachers who left my school previously and they got there paperwork on the last day of school. Now, they didn’t ask for it early as their res permits still had plenty of time left on them.

        But lets say they can’t/won’t give me my paperwork until the 17th of July (that’s the official last day of school) Would I have enough time to get the paperwork processed?
        F.Y.I…..This is not a job title transfer. Basically my job title was changed and i had a management visa and now have to change to an ESL visa for an International school. So I am hoping that with the humanitarian visa, that 6 weeks would be enough time. I told my new school straight away that I would not be leaving the country for any reason to complete this.

  51. Great post which has already proved really useful, so thank you.

    I have a question regarding documents required to transfer to a new employer, as well as clarifying the terms used for some of the documents.

    I recently sent my new employer my work permit cancellation certificate, previously I believed this was my release letter. It turns out my new employer needs a “release letter”, a different letter produced by the school, supposedly unrelated to the work permit cancellation certificate. My old employer is now unwilling to hand over this release letter and I am unsure of my next step, is it a requirement to gain this additional document, or has anyone found a method of gaining a new work permit without a “release letter”? Moving to Chengdu for context.

    Thanks in advance!

    1. Author

      Hi Thomas, AFAIK the “release letter” is no longer required for Shanghai since 2018. However, it may vary depending on which city you are in, or also maybe simply a case of the HR not keeping up to date of the requirements. Since you are moving to Chengdu, I would recommend checking the guidelines of Chengdu’s Entry & Exit Bureau, and if necessary, show proof to your new employer’s HR that the letter is not required for the visa transfer.

    2. Hi Guys. Thanks for the great posts. What other cities in China do not require release letters to transfer a VISA

  52. Great post, thanks.

    A question I have – I am transferring my visa to a new job this summer. My current contract ends August 25th, and the new one to start on August 26th. I have to sign a Labor Termination Agreement with my current employer’s HR to get the ball rolling on the transfer.

    My new employer wants me to write 16th July (last day of semester) as the date on this document in order to have enough time to complete the transfer before my new contract starts on August 26th. My current employer says my salary will be paid up until the date I write on this document as that’s the day the work permit is cancelled.

    I was kind of hoping to have my salary paid to the end of my contract (Aug 25th), but start the work permit cancellation and transfer process now so that I am ready to work for my new company on Aug 26th. But instead it seems I won’t receive a salary between the date I write on this document (July 16th) and Aug 26th.

    Is this right? When you transfer a visa for a contract starting immediately after, do you just have to accept this loss of pay?


    1. And FYI, this is Chengdu, and let’s assume that my current company will dig their heels in and only do what they are legally required to do since I strongly suspect that’s the case!

    2. Author

      Hi Greg, from past experience you could just start working at the new employer on August 26th WHILE they begin your permit application. Most companies I know were doing that and it seemed to be okay.

  53. This post is saving my life, especially during the COVID times!

    -Quick question: I know the article says 4 days for the new work permit, however, how long did it take for you to receive your new work permit after submitting the hard copies at the office?

    Thank you again for this awesome article! I share this to all my friends that want to change to a new company haha

    1. Author

      Hi Alyssa, 4 days was my experience. On paper it says “7 days.” Cheers.

  54. Hi. I still have a valid work permit and want to cancel it so I can transfer to another company. The main problem is that the company went down! It doesn’t exist anymore. There is no more HR or anyone to contact for cancellation. I also don’t have that card with me, it stayed at company’s office but I have a scan of it.
    What to do in this case? How can I cancel it?

    1. Author

      lol that’s tough, but you should definitely reach out to someone who had an administrative or management role at the company. Ask for your new employer for advice too.

  55. Hi. I have a valid work permit and want to transfer it to another school in a different province. I have been working in Liaoning province for almost 10 years and a possible school has told me that I would need to have my degree resubmitted and a non-criminal background check submitted. Is this true?

  56. Great and informative article! I find myself in a bit of tough situation. I am looking to get a position in a new company in China but I am currently outside of the country.

    Is it possible for the permit transfer to be done without being in China at the time? Say if I were to send my passport and any required documents to my new employer and then have them sent back for me to enter the country on the updated work permit?

    1. Author

      Hi Henry, I don’t think that’s possible if you are outside of the country. In all likelihood you will need to restart your application from scratch, especially post-COVID. If your previous work visa (from previous employer) is still valid though you might be able to come back and then do the transfer in China.

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